Are Self-Driving Cars Safe?

It’s the year 2016 and technology has continued to make huge advancements. In my series of blog posts I’ve discussed several different topics regarding the auto industry’s development of autonomous vehicles. Despite the fact that autonomous vehicles have already begun to hit the road, it still remains a highly controversial topic as to whether they’re safe or not.

The developers of this new technology have made sure to but extensive hours into the technology they use to program these vehicles. Google has been one of the earlier developers of the autonomous technology, starting production in 2009. Google has taken many steps to make sure the product they produce is going to be as safe as possible. Since 2009 Google has run several tests using their new technology. One of their discoveries has revealed a few truths that suggest autonomous vehicles can be quite safe. Autonomous vehicles are programmed with such advanced computers and sensory devices that they are capable of accurately maneuvering the open road. With the accuracy of the technology has made human error much more apparent. During Google’s research they reported having only 16 accidents. However, in those 16 accidents human error was the cause of each collision indicating that autonomous vehicles are precisely programmed to obey all the laws of the road. The practicality of using the self-driving technology also has many features that can make driving a safer experience. For example if an individual was to suddenly become too tired to drive; that driver has the option to engage the self-driving feature so that he/she can safely get home. This can also apply to individuals who may have had a bit too much to drink. With these features intoxicated drivers will be able to safely get home.

On the other end there are also several things that may pose potential dangers. Because autonomous vehicles are so heavily equipped with computers and other devices; they risk the potential of someday being hacked. It has been proven that lack of proper security measure hackers can find ways to hijack several functions of a vehicle from their laptops at home. This was proven when two security researchers were able to hack a 2015 Jeep which further exposed a security flaw within several other vehicles that used the same software. Despite the threat of outside forces messing with the vehicle’s computer; there are also threats within the technology. Technology always has the potential to malfunction in bizarre ways that sometimes are unpreventable. Because of the spontaneity of computer error, developers need to make sure they’re constantly working on any errors that may arise. Due to the fact that accidents may happen at any given moment many of the manufacturers have made sure to make contracts that will hold the drivers of these vehicles liable for any incidents that may occur. This means you will not be able to simply plead not guilty in court because you claim it was the car’s fault.

As you can see there is plenty of evidence that may suggest that driving a self-driving car is safe or not safe. Ultimately getting behind the wheel of an autonomous vehicle depends on how you may decide to weigh the benefits vs the risks.